Summer’s heat can be harsh and unforgiving—not only to you but to your beloved furball as well! It may come as a surprise to most pet parents, but sunburn is as real a risk to your dog as it is to you, bringing with it a range of diseases and health complications for your furry friend.
One of the parts most commonly affected by sunburn, in dogs, is the nose. Since the skin here is extremely sensitive and thin, it doesn’t take more than a few extra hours in the sun for ultraviolet rays to dry out, crack, or cause soreness in your dog’s nose, affecting the ability to smell.
How do you identify the signs of sunburn in your dog? And what measures can you take to prevent this and make summer as comfortable for your furry friend as it is for you?
Read on to know!
Identifying the signs of dog’s nose sunburn
Just as sunburn spots turn red in humans, they turn red in dogs. Sensitive areas with thin skin, such as the tummy, nose, and ears, are the most susceptible parts—the sunburn hits here first before moving on to the thicker, hairier parts.
Some of the signs that indicate sunburn in your dog:
- Cracked, flaky, crusty, or dry skin
- The edges of the ears curling
- Scratching a particular spot and whimpering
- Resistance to your touch due to pain or soreness
- A fever (in severe cases)
In addition to these general signs, the following signs can help you identify sunburn on the nose:
- Continuously licking the nose to soothe the irritation caused by burning and dryness
- Twitching the nose and whiskers
Are some dog breeds more susceptible to sunburn?
🚨 Yes, some dog breeds are more susceptible to sunburn than others.
Breeds with pink/light-colored noses, ears, and eyelids, light-colored hair/fur, hairless patches, short and thin coats, and undying love for the outdoors and sunshine are at a higher risk of sunburn than their dark-haired, thick-coated, black-nosed, hairy, indoors-loving counterparts!
Therefore, if you’re parenting a breed such as the American hairless terrier, Collie, Whippet, Dalmatian, or Australian sheepdog, you should keep a careful eye out for sunburn during the summer.
How serious is my dog’s sunburn?
A sunburn can be one of three intensities in your dog:
- Superficial Partial Thickness Burn: This is the least severe type of sunburn. While the skin reddens, there are no blisters.
- Deep Partial Thickness Burn: This sunburn penetrates through the skin’s first layer and could also affect the deeper layers. The severity of this burn is similar to the severity of third-degree burns in humans.
- Full Thickness Burn: These burns are the most severe, fully penetrating through all the layers of skin on your dog’s nose, and potentially even some of the tissue beneath the bottom-most layer of the nose. Such burns require immediate medical attention and can be very painful and uncomfortable for your doggo.
How to prevent sunburn in your dog
There are a few simple measures that you can take to prevent sunburn from hitting your dog.
A quality dog balm
A quality balm such as our Paws and Snout Premium dog balm can be used not only to relieve the sunburned dog’s nose but also as an effective protection against sunlight. The majority of our customers use it for healing a wide spectrum of issues (including dogs sunburnt on various spots), but due to its organic ingredients along with vitamins could act as an adequate and effective sun-protecting layer.
👍 You could also apply our balm on the ears, belly, and groin areas, as these are other sunburn-susceptible parts.
Slather on the sunscreen
Sunscreen isn’t just a summer must-have for humans—sunscreen is one of the most effective measures to keep the sunburn away from your dog, too. Slather on the sunscreen before taking your dog out; you can also use it to soothe burns, promote healing, bring back moisture, and reduce any discomfort.
Use sunscreen, specially formulated for dogs with non-toxic ingredients, given how sensitive the area is as well as your furball’s propensity to lick anything placed on the nose immediately!
If this isn’t available, children’s sunscreen, without any fragrances or flavors, may be used. Just ensure that whichever sunscreen you’re using, it’s free of para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA) and zinc, as these are highly toxic to dogs. It’s always a good idea to run your sunscreen option by your vet if it isn’t specifically formulated for dogs.
Limit time in the sun
🚨 Don’t leave your dog outside, in direct sunlight, for long periods. Ensure that there’s adequate shade around, should your dog want a cooler spot while outside.
Additionally, ensure that you aren’t taking your dog out or letting him/her out during the hottest time of the day (between 2 PM and 6 PM), even if he/she loves snoozing in direct sunlight. Walk time should ideally be after sunset and before or just after sunrise.
Apart from this, the following measures will also help:
- Don’t leave your dog in the backyard, no matter how much he or she loves it. Keep your dog indoors as much as possible and ensure there’s enough water and cool spots around. You could even consider a wading pool.
- Avoid walks on hot pavements, especially dark ones. If they feel hot to your touch, they’re definitely hot for your dog and can burn the nose when sniffing.
- Limit outdoor summer activities with your pooch. If you must go, ensure you’re carrying sufficient water, a bowl, and sunblock. Remember to be mindful of your dog’s limits; your dog will do anything to please you, including disguising fatigue, so know when to stop.
- Don’t leave your dog in the car, even with a cracked window. Temperatures can rise really quickly and cause fatal conditions like heat strokes and heat exhaustion, apart from sunburn.
Sun hats and cooling vests
There are also doggy sun hats and cooling vests available. These protect Fido from sun damage—and it doesn’t hurt that they’re adorable!
However, not all dogs enjoy such accessories; some may find them very disturbing and distressing. You may need to train your dog to get used to these sun-blocking measures.
Forget the shaving
While many owners think that shaving their pets will help keep them cool in the summer heat, this is only going to expose previously unexposed skin to the sunshine and increase the risk of sunburn.
Instead, provide shade wherever and whenever possible for your dog to seek shelter when necessary.
Left untreated, sunburns could lead to skin cancer and irreversible skin damage.
Sunburns are treated based on their severity. Mild sunburns are best left to heal on their own, with proper supplementary home care. Severe burns need medical attention and may be treated with steroids and/or topical medication.
Remember—burns don’t show as easily on dogs as on humans, so if you’re unsure about the severity, seek medical help anyway.
The bottom line
Dog nose sunburns are extremely common, so don’t worry too much if you spot this in your dog.
Sunscreen, along with the sun protection measures listed above, is usually more than enough to prevent sunburns on your pooch’s nose.
So the next time you’re reaching out for that SPF goodness, make sure you’re sharing some of it with your furball too!